Your Business Advocate: More than just candidates on the ballot

When we go to the polls in November, many of us will have more than just elected offices on the ballot. Since the enactment of more stringent local levy limits in 2011, school districts and local governments have turned increasingly to the voters to approve increases in taxes and borrowing.

While referendums can be a burden on the governing bodies authorizing them, the responsibility for their success ultimately is placed on the voters-at-large. Often times that simply means voters remembering to flip over the ballot to make sure they have filled it out completely. Referendums will always be placed after the elected offices.

Referendums can come in many forms. The ones we most often hear about are a school district wanting to build new facilities or a municipality needing more bonding authority or funding for a project. Lately, we have been seeing an increase in “advisory referendums.” The last few election cycles have seen municipalities or counties placing questions about legalizing marijuana statewide or enacting single-payer healthcare on the ballot. This can be a useful tool for gauging the interest of voters on particular issue. It can also be used by partisans at the local level to try to increase turnout among a certain voter base.

There are over 200 referendums on the ballot throughout Wisconsin in November. Below is a list of area referendums. If you’re unsure what is on your ballot, head to myvote.wi.gov to get a preview of what yours will look like!

Menasha Joint School District

  • Question: Shall the Menasha Joint School District, Winnebago, Calumet and Outagamie Counties, Wisconsin be authorized to issue pursuant to Chapter 67 of the Wisconsin Statutes, general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $99,700,000 for the public purpose of paying the cost of a school building and facility improvement project consisting of: the construction of a new Maplewood School on the existing site and removal of the current building; site improvements; and acquisition of furnishing, fixtures and equipment?

Town of Seymour – Outagamie County

  • Question: Shall the person holding the office of Town Treasurer in the Town of Seymour be appointed by the Town Board?

Town of Poygan – Winnebago County

  • Question 1: “Shall the person holding the office of town clerk in the Town of Poygan be appointed by the town board?”
  • Question 2: “Shall the person holding the office of town treasurer in the Town of Poygan be appointed by the town board?”

Town of Osborn – Outagamie County

  • Question: Shall the person holding the office of Town Treasurer in the Town of Osborn be appointed by the town board?

Town of Grand Chute – Outagamie County

  • Question: Under state law, the increase in the levy of the Town of Grand Chute for the tax to be imposed for the next fiscal year, 2023, is limited to 1.654%, which results in a levy of $15,731,174. Shall the Town of Grand Chute be allowed to exceed this limit and increase the levy for the next fiscal year, 2023, for the purpose of hiring five (5) additional police officers, increasing the hours for two (2) existing support staff, and providing necessary training, equipment, and vehicles, by a total of 6.090%, which results in a levy of $16,689,174 and on an ongoing basis, include the increase of $958,000 for each fiscal year going forward?

Town of Clayton – Winnebago County

  • Question: Under state law, the increase in the levy of the Town of Clayton for the tax to be imposed for the next fiscal year is limited to 1.022% which results in a levy of $930,621.00. Shall the Town of Clayton be allowed to exceed this limit and increase the levy for the next fiscal year for the purpose of hiring additional administrative staff by a total of 10.763%, which results in a levy of$ 1,029,121.00?

Outagamie County Advisory Referendum

  • Question: Should the State of Wisconsin establish a right to clean water to protect human health, the environment, and the diverse cultural and natural heritage of Wisconsin?

Appleton Area School District

  • Question 1: Shall the Appleton Area School District, Outagamie, Calumet and Winnebago Counties, Wisconsin be authorized to issue pursuant to Chapter 67 of the Wisconsin Statutes, general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $129,800,000 for the public purpose of paying the cost of a school building and facility improvement project consisting of: district-wide updates to classroom and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) areas, and safety and security improvements; construction of a new elementary school and related site improvements on district-owned land; remodeling and learning space updates at the elementary schools; renovations and construction of additions at the middle schools and the high schools, including for classrooms and high school fitness center and physical education space; and acquisition of furnishings, fixtures and equipment?
  • Question 2: Shall the Appleton Area School District, Outagamie, Calumet and Winnebago Counties, Wisconsin be authorized to exceed the revenue limit specified in Section 121.91, Wisconsin Statutes, by $5,000,000 beginning with the 2023-2024 school year, for recurring purposes consisting of expenses for ongoing school building maintenance, cleaning and utility costs, staffing for STEM classes and reducing class sizes in kindergarten, first and second grades?

City of Kaukauna – Multiple Counties

  • Question: Shall the City of Kaukauna, Outagamie County, Wisconsin change the City Attorney position from elected to a hired position?

City of Appleton Advisory Referendum

  • Question: Should marijuana be legalized for use by those 21 and over, taxed, and regulated like alcohol in the State of Wisconsin?

Hilbert School District – Calumet County

  • Question 1: INITIAL RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING ISSUANCE OF GENERAL OBLIGATION BONDS IN AN AMOUNT NOT TO EXCEED $8,270,000

BE IT RESOLVED by the School Board of the School District of Hilbert, Calumet County, Wisconsin, that there shall be issued, pursuant to Chapter 67, Wisconsin Statutes, General Obligation Bonds in an amount not to exceed $8,270,000 for the purpose of paying the costs of improvements to the District’s K-12 school building including: additions and renovations to the facilities for career and technical education, band and choir and the locker room/fitness center; expansion and updates to the current lunchroom/commons area; and equipment acquisition related to said projects.

Shall the foregoing resolution of the School Board of the School District of Hilbert be approved?

  • Question 2: RESOLUTION TO EXCEED REVENUE CAP COMMENCING WITH THE 2022-23 SCHOOL YEAR

BE IT RESOLVED by the School Board of the School District of Hilbert, Calumet County, Wisconsin, that the final school district budget shall include an amount of $200,000 each year in excess of the revenue limits imposed by Section 121.91 of the Wisconsin Statutes commencing with the 2022-23 school year on a recurring basis for the purpose of paying the costs of District staffing and acquiring career and technical education equipment.

Shall the School Board of the School District of Hilbert be authorized to exceed the revenue limit under Section 121.91 of the Wisconsin Statutes by an amount of $200,000 each year commencing with the 2022-23 school year on a recurring basis for the purpose of paying the costs of District staffing and acquiring career and technical education equipment as provided in the foregoing resolution?